Myanmar police accused of using chemical weapons to disperse crowds

Police in Myanmar have been accused of using chemical weapons to stop a protest at a China-backed copper mine.

The Myanmar President's Office denied the allegations. The office's director, Zaw Htay, said that riot police broke up the protestors' camp sites in the middle of the night, dispersing both monks and local residents, but did not use chemical weapons to do so, according to

"I believe that police did not use any chemical weapons," Zaw Htay said, reports. "Instead, they use water cannon, tear bombs and smoke bombs. Protest camps were fired by smoke bombs."

Witnesses disputed the claims, saying monks and other protestors at the Lapadaungtaung Mountain copper mine project are now being treated for burns caused by a type of firebomb, not a smoke bomb.

"Then, they use some kind of flammable bombs," a witness reported, reports. "They are not grenades. They exploded in the air and fiery projectiles fall down from the sky. Everyone and everything touched by the projectiles caught fire and their skins are burnt out. It is obvious that is not tear gas."

Zaw Htay reiterated that Myanmar police would only use crowd-dispersal non-lethal weapons on protesters.

"Smoke bombs are also used by riot police in the foreign countries," Zaw Htay said, according to "They are not the ones which are used in battlefields. Those three types of weapons are only used in forcing demonstrations to disperse."